This is going to be a rather long read but it's totally worth it 😊😊
She felt a whoosh go through her. She had a twin? But they didn’t look alike in any way. “I’ll talk to her later. I just feel… I don’t know.”
He stopped and drew her into a hug. “What is troubling you, my love?” he whispered against her hair. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”
Her shoulders sagged as she allowed herself meld with him. “I don’t know. I’m sure I will feel fine soon.”
He drew away to look at her. “Are you sure?”
The party was packed full with people milling around, resplendent in their outfits. A man stood apart, as if observing the people, a wry smile on his face and a glass of champagne in his hands. Cassie knew immediately that this was her father, there was a strong resemblance.
“Let’s go say hi to my father,” she said, inching slowly towards him.
He took a sip from his glass and as he lifted his head, their eyes met, his smile brightened and he began to walk towards them, arms outstretched.
She didn’t need to be the real Cassie to know what was expected of her as she launched herself into his arms. “Hello daddy.”
“Hey love.” His arms tightened around her, then he stepped back to observe her. “You look amazing.”
She smiled shyly. “Thank you, daddy.”
He looked at her, a tiny smile playing around his lips, his eyes misting up. “I love you, my Princess.” His voice caught, as though a sob was about to force itself out, quickly gathering himself, he chuckled.
Ike who had been watching the father-daughter exchanged cleared his throat. “Good evening Sir,”
He looked up, as though just noticing Ike. “Oh. How are you, Ike?”
An older, distinguished looking man came over to exchange pleasantries allowing Cassie and Ike to slip away. They went around, sharing cheery hellos and smiles. She could feel a slight throb in her cheeks from smiling so broadly and she wondered again why she’d been sent to that day.
A loud clang like someone hitting a piece of silverware on glass sounded and everyone looked up. A well dressed man who was the compere smiled back at everyone from a slightly raised platform. “It’s time for the toast by Cassie Osita, eldest daughter of the celebrants.”
There was applause sprinkled with mild chatter as everyone turned to her direction. Her heart sank, then plunged up again, beating wildly like a trapped moth. Now what, she wondered.
Ike gave her a subtle nudge, inclining his head to mutter. “Your toast, remember?”
She nodded, giving him a tight lipped smile. Beads of perspiration gathered around her upper lips as she made her way slowly to the front. Her heart pounded faster and faster till she feared she might collapse, suddenly, her bladder felt so full it could burst. She climbed the platform slowly, it was just two steps but she drew it out for as long as she could. She cleared her throat, turning to face the sea of eager faces. She groped around her mind, searching for words that could fit in and when they came, she spoke as though detached, without hearing exactly what she was saying. When she was done, a loud applause greeted her as she returned to where Ike was standing. He took her in his arms, kissed her soundly till her head spun, when he was done, he smiled down at her,
“That was lovely.” A frown creased his face. “But this wasn’t what you prepared, the one we rehearsed together for days. What happened?”
She shrugged, still reeling from the kiss. “I changed my mind.” As David, he felt slightly repulsed kissing another man, but he was Cassie, and she wouldn’t run from kissing a man she was living with.
Ike shook his head, his eyes glinting with a strange light that she couldn’t and wouldn’t even attempt to decipher. “You seem to be a bundle of change today.”
She stepped out of his embrace with a light chuckle. “I really need to use the toilet.”
Cassie wandered around the house, too ashamed to ask anyone for directions to the bathroom. How could she explain that she couldn’t find her way around her own house. She thought to herself, if she opened enough doors in this massive house, she’d eventually open one that led to a room. There was a long corridor and she walked down. The first door led to a smaller sitting room. Pictures of the family lined the walls and for a brief second, she wished she was truly Cassie, as she imagined how it would have been to have had such a seemingly happy family. She shut the door and wandered farther down the corridor.
As she made to open another door, she heard a click from within, it sounded at once familiar and remote, then it struck her, that was the click of a revolver. She hesitated briefly, her hand hovering above the door knob, without really thinking, she pushed the door open. Her father stood by a desk, the gun pointed into his mouth. His eyes widened in shock as he saw her and he withdrew the gun, suddenly abashed. She shut the door behind her, a cold clammy fear suddenly squeezing her insides, and stepped in.
“Were you about to?” she paused, unable to get the words out.
He nodded, his eyes refusing to meet hers. When he looked up, his eyes swam with tears. “I can’t do this anymore.” His voice stretched and tore into bits as a huge sob racked through him.
She walked gently towards him till she could almost touch him. “May I have it?”
He hesitated. She reached out and held his hands, slowly easing the gun away from his grip, switched the gun to her other hand and led him to a couch. He sat there, his head in his hands as he gave way to tears. She held him, murmuring softly to him. When he was spent, he raised his head. “I am sorry. I’ve just been really depressed. My life suddenly began to feel constricting. Overwhelming. Most mornings, I wake up and it feels like a cow is sitting on my chest, my head pounds and my heart beats too fast. I can’t breathe and I wish I could just die.”
Cassie listened till he was done. She asked, “Have you discussed this with mummy?”
He shook his head. “No. I told her once that I was feeling depressed and she looked at me like I had made a joke. It was right about when she began to plan this anniversary. I’d wanted something small ad intimate, but she decided that bigger was better, insisting it would help me get over my mood. You know how your mother is.” He sighed softly.
Her eyes filled with tears. “But suicide isn’t the answer. You will end up hurting your loved ones.” She fixed him with a stern look. “If you ever try this again, I will kill myself too and make sure your afterlife is miserable. You have an amazing family, why would you want to hurt yourself, to hurt them. Yes, mummy is mostly in her own world but you have me and my sister, you can always talk to us.” She gave his hand a tight squeeze. “I am always here for you. I will do anything to make sure you are fine. We love you, daddy.”
He looked at her, as though seeing her for the first time.
“I mean it. Promise me you will never do this.”
He nodded, allowing her draw him into a hug.
Suddenly, Cassie/David felt that whirlpool feeling, he felt himself being sucked away and thought; ‘but I still have some hours left.’
David reappeared in the Evaluation hall, Assidynia beckoned to him, a slight smile playing around his lips. “You have done well, David.”